Nigeria ranks lowest in education budget in West Africa – ASUU

By Funmilayo Adeyemi
 The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has decried the neglect of the education sector, saying Nigeria ranks lowest in education budgets across the West African sub-region.
ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said this at a One-Day Workshop on ‘Emerging Areas of Students Needs in Beneficiary Institutions’, organised by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) in Abuja on Tuesday.
He also reiterated the union’s call for an upward review of education tax to 10 per cent, saying it would increase TETFund funding from the current N600 billion annually to N3 trillion.
“We have done survey of West African countries. The least budgetary allocation to education by any country in West Africa is 15 per cent. The highest is 32 per cent.
“We are in a country where we give 4.5 to 7 per cent out of which less than 70 per cent is released. But the Awolowo government was allocating over 30 per cent to education,” he said .
He singled out Enugu, Abia and Oyo states for earmarking more than 20 per cent of their budgets to the sector.
Osodeke berated many Universities Vice Chancellors for their failure to carry necessary stakeholders along in the utilisation of TetFund allocation to their schools.
“The TETFund inviting us as stakeholders to this meeting is an example of how it should be.
“But, you remember that when you were allocating money to universities VCs, we agreed that they would call stakeholders meeting before that money is utilised.
“We had our National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting some days ago, less than 10 per cent have called for that stakeholders meeting.
“I want to plead that any university that does not take the stakeholders along, should not be allowed to have access to the fund. The funds belong to the Nigerian people,” he said.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Sonny Echono said funding educational activities required careful consideration of different needs and expectations.
Echono said that funding must also be directed at essential programmes which align with the strategic objectives in terms of outcomes of investment in either physical or content development that the funding usually supports.
“The provision of physical facilities must be accompanied by corresponding programmes that will ensure maximum impact and benefit to the target group.
“As such, the Fund is constantly and critically reviewing its operations and interventions with a view to ensuring that the interventions meet the actual goals that are intended at conception,” he said.
The executive secretary noted that new programmes and intervention lines were introduced, and some innovation or alterations were carried out regarding some existing ones, adding that, where necessary, non performing ones were dropped.
“In the year 2024 disbursement cycle, the Career Services Centre was introduced to complement other programmes in tertiary institutions.
“The Fund considers the establishment of these centres necessary for the development of students careers and their employability, which is the raison d’etre for establishment of tertiary educational institutions.
“Career services centres have helped students in advanced nations to make informed decisions regarding their career paths.
“The centers provide information for students on trends in the job market, opportunities, and requisite skills as well as linkages with the employment industries including the alumni of the institutions,” he said
Echono said the centres also provide students with tools for self-assessment to identify their interests, strengths, weaknesses and prospects as well as counselling, guidance, and support to all student. (NAN)